Balancing the Grind with Nick Berman, Partner – Design & Digital at Sterning Group

Nick Berman is the Partner – Design & Digital at Sterning Group, a recruitment agency specialising in Design, Engineering, Finance, HR and IT across Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I’ve been recruiting in Sydney and Brisbane for 17 years across the digital, design and innovation sectors. I work with a broad range of clients from government, agency and corporate organizations.

For the last seven years I’ve worked remotely, of which two and a half years have been in my own business. I now live and work in a small country town. Working for myself allows me flexibility and more time to prioritise what is most important both at work and at home.

I genuinely love working with my clients. A significant part of my days are spent supporting both clients and candidates through their chosen career goals and pathways. These days, whether due to COVID or not, there are always external pressures that people are feeling.

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

My typical day starts around 5:30am with one of my kids climbing into our bed for cuddles. I pack kids’ lunches ready for school, then make breakfast for my wife and kids while they snuggle our newborn.

We take our kids to the bus stop and have coffee with friends from our community at a beloved local cafe. I walk to my co-working space and start planning my day. I make sales and business development calls, talk to candidates and clients and research market needs.

I always allow for some time in between calls to go for a small walk and grab another coffee; I really need that kind of reset and the rhythm it adds to my day. I have learnt some of my most productive times occur during my walks; they allow me more clarity in conversation.

Some days I pick my kids up from school or I catch a ride home after work. More often than not I’m home around 4 and work from my phone as needed.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

Working remotely was challenging initially (think cramped conditions, new roles negotiated, first baby) but is now an absolute dream.

Before COVID I worked in my shared office space daily with a monthly trip to Sydney. I now have to try to develop the same energy via phone and video calls. It’s not the same and I really miss the face to face connections. I will be thrilled when I make it back to Sydney.

My daily hours are highly flexible; this is brilliant as we welcome our baby and all the changes that come with that.

Having a really established and supportive network at work, as well as my beautiful family at home, has really helped me begin to balance shifts from work mode to home life. I concentrate on working hard when I’m working and being more gentle and calm when I step back into a home filled with small children.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

Working for myself, in partnership with my wife , has meant I spend less time reporting to teams and employers and more time focussing on core business. It’s easier to make space for true revenue raising.

I’m now completely able to decide on the rhythms of my day. My energy is higher in the mornings so I capitalise on this by making sales calls and marketing candidates. Afternoons are more about administrative chores, financials and invoicing, as well as being available to be responsive to clients’ sudden or unexpected needs.

Maintaining wellness is also crucial for me. I eat well, train, spend time in nature, rely on my friends and am committed to attending a Men’s Circle. My wife helps me to keep an eye on when work overwhelms and the stress enters our home. Laughter is the glue holding my days together.

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5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

My business diminished hugely during COVID. We spent the time homeschooling, navigating the twists and turns of pregnancy and getting to unfinished jobs around our home. I had so much space to reflect on my relationships and work.

Beyond my relationship, my biggest support has become a men’s circle in my local community. It gives me a voice, I feel heard and supported when I’m going through challenging times. It is really helping me grow as an individual and I am increasingly able to support myself and those around me.

Work is now back but these new habits continue.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

The Barefoot Investor is just so hugely practical and we’ve used a lot of his strategies to improve our finances. Brené Brown’s work on vulnerability and shame tie in to my circle work.

Instagram provides a lot of inspiration. I follow accounts related to wellness, mental health, functional training, barefoot shoes and Dad Jokes. Always the dad jokes.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

My iPhone 11 Pro Plus has the battery I need to work remotely and on the move. The camera adds a lot of joy to my days. I also love my Wim Hoff app which is great for breathing exercises and meditations.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

I would love to read an interview on work-life balance by Brené Brown. I’ve recently started following her on Instagram and watched her on Netflix. Her approach to life is inspiring me to deepen emotional connections and look more closely at how I work.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

I think COVID is forcing us to look at issues around work-life balance, mental health and what constitutes effective and flexible work practices. I hope we can work towards more balance and humanity in people’s work lives.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.